By Brooks Kennedy, founder and consultant with PS Tech Group
I have been thinking a lot lately about customer service—probably because there’s not much of it any more. We have all seem many examples of bad (or no) customer service. In some industries such as fast food, we have just come to expect bad customer service and have made it the “norm.”
Sometimes we are totally surprised when we experience good customer service when, in fact, we should always experience good customer service.
I have just completed 8 weeks of radiation treatments (5 days a week) and have experienced fantastic customer service from the receptionists, technicians, nurses, and doctor. By the second day, the receptionists all knew me by name and welcomed me and checked me in without even having to stop at their desk. The technicians were all respectful and courteous and honored my privacy. Except for a couple of days of equipment problems, all treatments were on time even though they were treating over 120 patients per day (two every 10 minutes). Even on “doctor days” each Wednesday where I met with a nurse and the doctor, they stayed on schedule. NOW THAT’S GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE!!
Since our company works with four different types of organizations, I wanted to consider what good customer service means in each type of organization.
Small businesses—This one may not need much explanation because we see it every day (good and bad; mostly bad). Small businesses often accept bad customer service from their employees because they have so much trouble finding employees at all and the turnover is so high. The secret to good customer service in small businesses is expectation, training, and accountability in employees.
Churches—This group doesn’t like to talk about customer service because they don’t believe they have any customers. Churches do, however, have three types of customers: members, regular visitors, and first-time visitors. It is wrong to think of customers as people you have to please all the time. Especially with churches, customers are those you are trying to serve—teaching them to serve others. Churches need to have good customer service.
Private schools—In schools, you have the unique situation where your customers (or clients) are your students, their parents and grandparents, and your donors. They have expectations of what you should provide for the money they are paying or donating, but those expectations may not always be realistic. It is essential for private schools to offer great customer service so their clients are more receptive to decisions that vary from their expectations.
Non-profits—While the purposes of non-profits vary widely, the idea of good customer service applies especially to their donors. These groups always walk a “tightrope” in seeking donations without the baggage of control from the donors. It is essential that non-profits establish a high trust level with their donors. The best way to do that is with good customer service.
We all know good customer service and bad customer service when we see it. Our expectations should be to not accept anything but good customer service—whether we are the customer being served or the one who should be serving the customer. Most employees we hire today have grown up with bad (or no) customer service and don’t know how to offer any other type of service. We have to train them, train them, and train them and then expect them to treat customers as they should be treated.
I grew up in Martin (Tennessee) and have lived in Denver (Colorado), Greenville (South Carolina), and now mostly in the Fort Worth (Texas) area since 1981. I have worked with churches and Christian schools most of my life and am the founder of and a consultant with PS Tech Group. My dedication is Success through Technology.